Looking at evidence through the eyes of an investigative reporter gives you a completely different and enlightening perspective. In the court room you have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is what I will do on this journey. Show proof beyond a reasonable doubt that there is in fact a Case for Christ and his existence!
There is no more compelling testimony than that of an eyewitness. When it comes to Jesus Christ we look to the four gospels as the most accurate account of the events that unfolded during the life of Jesus Christ. “It is important to acknowledge that strictly speaking the gospels are anonymous. But the uniform testimony of the early church was that Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector and one of the twelve disciples, was the author of the first gospel in the New Testament; that John Mark, a companion of Peter, was the author of the gospel we call Mark; and that Luke know a Paul’s ‘beloved physician’, wrote both the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. There are no known competitors for these three gospels.” Dr. Craig Blomberg
John: was an extremely prominent man, he wasn’t just one of the twelve disciples but one of Jesus’ inner three along with James and Peter. There is some question about the authorship of the gospel of John. There is reference to “John the Apostle” and “John the Elder” it is not clear from the context if this is one or two separate people. This is commonly accepted as one person referenced by two titles. But, granted that exception, the rest of the early testimony is unanimous that it was John the Apostle who wrote the gospel.
There are multiple affirmations that the gospels were accurate eyewitness testimony. The most prolific being “Papias” in 125 A.D. and “Irenaeus” in 180 A.D. Papias said “Matthew has preserved the teachings of Jesus well.”
It is important to note, they were written in a different literary style. The only purpose for history to be recorded during these times, was if there was a lesson to be learned. The first three gospels were called synoptics, which means “to view at the same time,” because of their similar outline and interrelationship. There are obvious differences between the synoptics and the gospel of John. Only a handful of the stories that appear in the first three gospels reappear in John. That is until the last week of Jesus’ life, then there are strong parallels.
The gospels were rooted in direct or indirect eyewitness testimony. The information preserved until it was finally written down years later. Generally accepted: Mark in the 70’s, Matthew and Luke in the 80’s and John in the 90’s. Which is still within the lifetime of eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ. Including hostile eyewitnesses who would have served as corrective if false teachings about Jesus were going around. To get even more exact on the dates, we can accurately date Acts to 62 which was Luke’s 2nd work, putting his gospel no later than 61, that would then put Mark no later than 60. Giving 1 year for each to be written. Jesus was put to death in 30 or 33 A.D. , leaving no more than a thirty year gap. Historically speaking, that is like a news flash!
First century writers were interested in what “actually” happened. There are multiple accounts of the historical accuracies pertaining to the life of Jesus Christ. The culture of the era was vastly different than today’s culture. We are a visual society, where as they were an oral society. The amount of information in the four gospels could have easily been committed to memory during this time period. The community would be constantly monitoring what was being said and intervening to make corrections along the way. Thus preserving the integrity of the message. Rabbis became famous for having the entire Old Testament committed to memory.
All of the disciples were people of great integrity. They were willing to live out their beliefs even to the point of ten of the eleven remaining disciples being put to grisly deaths. This in itself shows great character.
In terms of honesty, in terms of truthfulness, in terms of virtue and morality, these people had a track record that should be envied.
The gospels are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards. Which is only fair to judge them by. There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have ben no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they were all independent narrators of the same great transaction.
Many of the proposed contradictions of the bible are multi option scenarios that are just varying perspectives. There are rational explanations that bring forth reasonable harmonization of the gospel accounts.
These disciples had nothing to gain except: criticism, ostracism and martyrdom. Nothing to win financially. If anything, this would have provided pressure to keep quite, to deny Jesus, to down play him, even forget they ever met him.
When the gospels mention people, places and events they can be verified by other independent sources from that time period. Leading archaeologist and historians of today have produced numerous accounts by multiple sources that verify the key events within the gospels. There are many people with reasons for wanting to discredit this movement. However, there are no adverse witness accounts. Even to the miracles that Jesus performed, they are even verified by his opponents!
We can have confidence in the reliability of the gospels.
How can we be sure these gospels and other biographies of Jesus were handed down in a reliable way?
Copies of Copies of Copies of Copies
When it comes to the New Testament there is an unprecedented multiplicity of copies that survived. Especially compared to other ancient writings. The more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different regions, the more you can cross check them to figure out what the original document was like. The only way they’d agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represents the descent of the manuscripts. We have copies commencing within a couple of generations of the originals, whereas in other ancient texts, maybe five, eight, or ten centuries elapsed between the original and the earliest surviving copy. More than five thousand copies of the New Testament have been catalogued.
The earliest portion of the New Testament that we possess today is a fragment of the gospel of John, containing material from chapter eighteen. It originated between A.D. 100 and 150. It was discovered in a community on the Nile River in Egypt, far from Ephesus in Asia Minor, where the gospel was probably originally composed. This finding has literally rewritten popular views of history, pushing the composition of John’s gospel much closer to the days when Jesus walked the earth.
This is an opinion shared by many leading scholars. There are over 24,000 manuscripts in existence today. The New Testament stacks up very well against other well-known works of antiquity. We can have great confidence in the fidelity in which this material has come down to us. The New Testament has survived in a purer form that any other great book – a form that is 99.5% true.
The early church had 3 criteria of what would be included in the New Testament
- The book must have apostolic authority
- Criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith
- Criterion of whether a document had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large
The four gospels have a very high degree of unanimity as to being authentic in the story they told. There has never been any serious dispute about the authoritative nature of twenty of the New Testament’s twenty seven books. The remaining seven gained recognition after some time.
Corroborative evidence for the Gospels.
Josephus, was a well known and important Roman historian of Jewish descent that lived in the first century. In his writings he refers to James, brother of Jesus. This is important to note as it further confirms the historical accuracy of the Gospels.
In the writings of Josephus there are many references to Jesus Christ himself. “Jesus who was called the Christ.” Josephus recounts the life, miracles, death and ultimately the resurrection of Jesus. Josephus states; “There lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was the one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He was the Christ.”
Tacitus, another prolific historian of the time recorded what is probably the most important reference to Jesus outside of the New Testament. He states, “Nero persecuted the Christians as scapegoats to divert suspicions away from himself for the great fire that devastated Rome in A.D. 64.”
Pliny the Younger, in A.D. 79 refers to the Christians he had arrested and lead away for execution; these Christians show a stubbornness and unshakable obstinacy toward Jesus the Christ.
We have a better historical documentation for Jesus, than for the founder of any other ancient religion. Within the shortest time span, closest to his life.
- Jesus was a Jewish teach
- He performed healing and exorcisms
- He was the Messiah
- Rejected by the Jewish leaders
- Crucifixion under Pontius Pilate
- Followers spread his word beyond Palestine
- All kinds of people worshiped God (City ppl, country ppl, men, women free & slave)
From the Apostle Paul we get the earliest testimony, he was the foremost missionary & had immense hardships in life due to his beliefs.
Put this all together – Josephus, the Roman historians and officials, the Jewish writings, the letters of Paul and the apostolic fathers – and you have a very persuasive evidence that corroborates everything found in the biographies of Jesus. This creates an extremely compelling picture of Jesus the unique Son of God.
Fast forward to modern times and we now have the findings of modern archaeology to enhance and support the credibility of the New Testament. Archaeology has made many, many important contributions.
Luke was a physician and historian, he authored the Gospel of Luke as well as the book of Acts. The general consensus of both liberal and conservative scholars is that Luke is a very accurate historian, that he was a very educated man. Archaeology discoveries are showing over and over again that Luke was accurate in what he had to say. Luke has been established as a scrupulously accurate historian.
Archaeology is proving to confirm John and Mark as very accurate historians as well. One instance thought to be inaccurate until recent discoveries was the Pool of Bethesda. John provides details of the pool such as it had five porticoes, recently it has been excavated and just as John stated there were five porticoes! And you have other discoveries, the Pool of Siloam from John 9:7, Jacob’s Well from John 4:12, the probable location of the Stone Pavement near the Jaffa Gate where Jesus appeared before Pilate in John 19:13, even Pilate’s own identity – all of which have lent historical credibility to John’s Gospel. Archaeologist found a fragment of John 18 that leading papyrologists have dated to about A.D. 125. By demonstrating that copies of John existed this early and as far away as Egypt, archaeology has effectively dismantled speculation that John had been composed well into the second century. The Gospel of Mark has been questioned when referring to Palestinian geography. But, when put into the appropriate context, there is no problem with Mark’s account. Archaeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradiction to the Bible.
Archaeological confirmations that Nazareth was in existence during the first century. Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida is an expert in this area, and he describes Nazareth as being a very small place, about sixty acres.Archaeologist have found a list in Aramaic describing the twenty-four ‘courses’ or families, of priest who were relocated, and one of them was registered as having been moved to Nazareth. In addition archaeologist digs have uncovered first-century tombs in the vicinity of Nazareth. From the uncovered tombs…it can be concluded that Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period. Archaeology has also provided us with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hundreds of manuscripts dating from 250 B.C. to A.D. 68 that were found in caves twenty miles east of Jerusalem in 1947. They apparently had been hidden by a strict sect of Jews called the Essenes. One of these scrolls 4Q521 could tell us something about who Jesus was claiming to be. Archaeology’s repeated affirmation of the New Testament’s accuracy provides important corroboration for its reliability.
No Book of Mormon cities have ever been located, no Book of Mormon person, place, nation, or name has ever been found, no artifacts, no scriptures, no inscriptions…nothing which demonstrates the Book of Mormon is anything other than myth or invention. Totally different from the New Testament. Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book.
The essential reliability of the New Testament documents has been firmly established. Their accurate transmittal through history has been confirmed. Extensive corroboration by ancient historians and others has been demonstrated and archaeology underscores their trustworthiness. The Case for Christ while far from complete is beginning to look rock solid!
Taking a look at rebuttal evidence I am going to establish if the Jesus of history is the same as the Jesus of faith. Rebuttal evidence is defined as; any proof that’s offered to explain, counteract, or disprove a witnesses account. We have heard powerfully convincing and well reasoned evidence from many scholars on the topic of Jesus and the New Testament. However, there are decidedly contrary opinions of a small group of academics who have been the subject of much news coverage. This group is referred to as the Jesus Seminar.
From the perspective of the average person, that gets their news from a magazine, online etc… they assume this is the representation of the mainstream New Testament scholars. Which is absolutely not the case, but people do get that impression. The Jesus Seminar calls its version of the Bible, “The Scholars Version”, making the implication that other versions are not scholarly. The Jesus Seminar represents an extremely small number of radical-fringe scholars who are on the far, far left wing of New Testament thinking. It does not represent mainstream scholarship. Ironically, they have their own brand of fundamentalism. They say they have the right way of doing things, period. They have made statements such as; the traditional Jesus did not speak to the needs of the ecological crisis, the feminist crisis, so we need a new picture of Jesus. Another one stated, “we need a new fiction.” This is going directly to the masses and not other scholars, to influence popular opinion in the marketplace. They have in mind a totally new form of Christianity.
But, there is one picture that they all agree with: Jesus first of all must be a naturalistic Jesus. A man like you and I, an extraordinary man, but not supernatural. The Jesus Seminar paints itself as being on an unbiased quest for truth, as compared with religiously committed people. But, that’s not what is really going on, the participants of the Jesus Seminar are at least as biased as evangelicals, if not more. Their major assumption is that the Gospels are not generally reliable, because they include things that seem historically unlikely such as miracles, walking on water, and raising the dead. They operate on the assumption that everything in history has happened according to their own experiences and since they have never seen the supernatural, they assume miracles have never occurred in history. They rule out the supernatural from the beginning and then say, “Now bring on the evidence about Jesus.” No wonder they get the results they do!
To come up with their conclusion that Jesus never spoke most of the words in the Gospels, members of the Jesus Seminar used their own set of assumptions and criteria. But are these standards reasonable or appropriate? There are multiple problems with the assumptions and criteria. They assume that the later church put these sayings into the mouth of Jesus. That assumption is rooted into their suspicion of the Gospels.
Some of the specific criteria they used was things like double dissimilarity, This means they can believe Jesus said something if it doesn’t look like something a rabbi or the later church would say. Otherwise they assume it got into the Gospels from a Jewish or Christian source. The obvious problem is that Jesus was Jewish and he founded the Christian church, so it shouldn’t be surprising if he sounds Jewish or Christian! Yet, they have applied this criterion to reach the negative conclusion that Jesus didn’t say a whole lot. Multiple attestation was another criterion used, which basically says if it is only found in a single source then it is not valid. The fact is, most of ancient history is based on single sources. Even when Jesus’ sayings are found in two or three Gospels, they do not consider this as passing the multiple attestation criterion. If a saying is found in Mathew, Mark & Luke, they consider this a single source. The assumption is that Mathew and Luke used Mark in their writing the Gospel. With this line of thinking you can see why it’s extremely difficult to prove multiple attestation. Loaded criterion, like weighted dice, inevitably bring the results that were desired from the beginning.
When we compare Jesus to others from the ancient past to see parallels can we prove Jesus was unique? The parallels break down quickly when you look closely. The sheer centrality of the supernatural in the life of Jesus has no parallel whatsoever in Jewish history. The radical nature of the miracles distinguishes him as well. The biggest distinctive is how Jesus did miracles on his own authority. This goes right along with the different way Jesus talked about himself – ‘all authority has been given to me.’ Any parallels with wonder working rabbi’s are going to be very, very stretched.
There are some strong parallels with Jesus and a historical figure named Apollonius of Tyana. Apollonius was said to have healed people, exorcised demons, raised a young girl from the dead and to have appeared to some of his followers after his death. However, the alleged parallels just do not stand up. First, his biographer, Philostratus was writing a century and half after Apollonius lived, whereas the Gospels were written within a generation of Jesus the closer proximity to the event the less chance there is for legendary development, for error, or for memories to get confused. Another thing is we have four Gospels, corroborated with Paul, that can be cross-checked to some degree with non-biblical authors. The Gospels pass the standard test used to assess historical reliability, but we can’t say that about the stories of Apollonius. On top of that, Philostratus was commissioned by an empress to write a biography in order to dedicate a temple to Apollonius. She was a follower of Apollonius, therefore Philostratus would have a financial motive to embellish the story and give the empress what she wanted. On the other hand, writers of the Gospels had nothing to gain – and much to lose – by writing Jesus’ story, and they did not have ulterior motive such as financial gain. Philostratus was writting in the third century in Cappadocia, where Christianity had already been present for awhile. So, any borrowing would have been done by him.
A lot of college students are taught that many of the themes seen in the life of Jesus are merely echoes of ancient “mystery religions.” Giving the timing involved, if your going to argue for borrowing, it should be from the direction of Christianity to the “mystery religions” not vice versa. Also, the mystery religions were do-your-own-thing religions that freely borrowed ideas from various places. However, the Jews carefully guarded their beliefs from outside influences, they strongly resisted pagan ideas and rituals. These stories were cast in a ‘once upon a time’ legendary perspective. Contrast that with the depiction of Jesus Christ who actually lived several decades earlier. The Gospels name names, give historically accurate reference; crucified under Pontius Pilate, when Caiaphas was high priest, and the father of Alexander and Rufus carried his cross, for example. Concrete historical evidence, it has nothing to do with common stories or what happened once upon a time.
The Christian faith has always been rooted in reality. Historical research can discover the Jesus of faith, because the Jesus of faith is firmly rooted in history.
Now that we have affirmed that Jesus existed through historical proof, we can now look into the life of Jesus and start to understand a few things about the Son of God. The question of what Jesus thought of himself is a critical issue. The Jews of his day didn’t have any concept of the Trinity. So, of someone was to say they were God, that wouldn’t have made any sense to them. Lets examine some of the persuasive clues concerning how Jesus really regarded himself.
Jesus has twelve disciples, yet notice that he is not one of the twelve. If the twelve disciples represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in? He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, he’s forming the group – just as God in the Old Testament formed his people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus says, John (the baptist) is the greatest man on earth. (Of those born of woman) Jesus then goes further than John did, by performing miracles for example, so what does that say about what he thinks of himself? If he had merely been an innocuous sage telling nice little parables, how did he end up on a cross? Especially at Passover season, when no Jew wants any Jew to be executed!
Jesus deeds, especially his miracles, offer a lot of insight into Jesus. “Jesus says, ‘If I, by the finger of God, cast out demons, then you will know that the kingdom of God has come upon you.’ They are the foretaste of what the kingdom will be like.” Jesus used the phrase ‘Amen I say to you’, which is to say I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I am about to say.’ This was absolutely revolutionary. Jesus used the term “Abba” when he was relating to God. “Abba” connotes intimacy in a relationship between a child and his father. What does that tell us about what Jesus thought of himself? Jesus using the term “Abba” implies that he had a degree of intimacy with God that is unlike anything in the Judaism of his day.
Jesus repeatedly referred to himself as “Son of Man”, which is a reference to Daniel 7. This term, is extremely important in revealing Jesus’ messianic or transcendent self-understanding. There s ample evidence to conclude that Jesus thought of himself in unique and supreme terms.
Jesus ministry does not begin in earnest until after his baptism, when he hears a voice saying, “You are my son, with whom I am well pleased.” Within twenty years of the Crucifixion there was a full-blown Christology proclaiming Jesus as God incarnate. All of the ancient literature refers to Jesus as Lord and God. Jesus thought he was the person appointed by God to bring in the climatic saving act of God in human history – that he had been authorized by God, empowered by God, he spoke for God, and he was directed by God to do this task. So what Jesus said, God said. What Jesus did was the work of God.
Jesus believed he was the Son of God, the anointed one of God. He seen himself as the Son of Man, he seen himself as the final Messiah. He and the Father were one. Jesus – the historical Jesus – is also the living Lord.
If you look to the behavior of Jesus from a psychological perspective you will see he never demonstrated inappropriate behavior. For instance he cried at the death of his friend Lazarus – that’s natural for an emotionally healthy individual. When he was angry at the temple over people taking advantage of the downtrodden by lining their pockets, it was a righteous reaction to an injustice. Deluded people will have misperception, ie…people watching them etc. Jesus doe not exhibit this behavior. Jesus behavior was quite in line with what we would expect, and he had deep and abiding relationships with a wide variety of people from different walks of life. He was loving but didn’t let his compassion immobilize him. All in all there are no signs that Jesus was suffering from any known mental illness.
In an analogous way, Jesus didn’t just claim to be God – he backed it up with amazing feats of healing, with astounding demonstrations of power over nature, with transcendent and unprecedented teaching. He had divine insight into people, his healings were spontaneous, and ultimately to his own resurrection from the dead, which absolutely nobody else has been able to duplicate. So when Jesus claimed to be God, it wasn’t crazy. It was truth.
The profile evidence shows that Jesus fulfilled the attributes of God. For instance, God is described as omnipresent, or existing everywhere in the universe; as omniscient, or knowing everything that can be known throughout eternity; as omnipotent, or all powerful, as eternal, or being both beyond time and the source of all time. As immutable, or unchanging in his attitudes. He’s loving, he’s holy, he’s righteous, he’s wise, he’s just. One could point to such things as miracles to prove Jesus possessed the attributes of God. Not only did Jesus forgive sin, he asserted that he himself was without sin. The resurrection was the ultimate vindication of his identity.
In the Jewish scriptures, which Christians call the Old Testament, there are several dozen major prophecies about the coming Messiah. Jesus came to the Jewish people initially, and then to the world as the savior.
If the prophecies were so obvious and point so unquestionably toward Jesus, why don’t more Jews accept him as their Messiah? Someone did the math and figured out that the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in one hundred million billion. That number is millions of times greater than the total number of people who’ve ever walked the planet! If you computed the probability of fulfilling forty eight prophecies it would be one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion. The odds alone say it would be impossible for anyone to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. Yet Jesus – and only Jesus throughout all of history managed to do it.
Ahmadiya Muslims contend that Jesus actually fled to India, that it wasn’t a miraculous resurrection but merely a fortuitous resuscitation. What does the evidence actually establish? What actually happened at the crucifixion?
We know that prior to the crucifixion, Jesus actually began to sweat blood. A known medical condition called hematidrosis. It is not very common, but it is associated with a high degree of psychological stress. Jesus endured a terribly brutal Roman flogging of 39 lashes (possibly more). The floggings were carried out with a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip would have pieces of sharp bone which would cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that sometimes some of the spine would be exposed. We know many people would die from this kind of beating even before the crucifixion. At least the victims would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock. This does four things: First, the heart races to try and pump blood that isn’t there. Second, the blood pressure drops. Third, the kidney’s stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left. Fourth, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluid to replace the lost blood volume. Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.
Once Jesus arrived at the site of the crucifixion, he would have been laid down, and his hands would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam. This crossbar was separate from the vertical beam, which was permanently set in the ground. The Romans used five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point, they were driven through the wrist. So, the nails went through the wrist although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day.The word excruciating literally means – out of the cross, they needed to create a new word, because there was nothing in the language that could describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion. Again, the nerves in his feet would have been crushed, and there would have been a similar type of pain.
The effect of hanging on the cross, the stresses it would have put on Jesus body would have been indescribable. First of all, his arms would have immediately been stretched, probably about six inches in length, and both shoulders would have been dislocated – you can determine this with simple mathematical equations. This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 22, which foretold the Crucifixion hundreds of years before it took place and says, ‘My bones are out of joint.’
We know that what finally claims the life of a Crucifixion victim is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position. Basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones. after managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again, he would have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up anymore.
In fact, with his heart beating erratically, Jesus would have known he was at the moment of death, which is when he was able to say, ‘Lord, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ And then he died of cardiac arrest. The Roman soldier thrusting the spear through the side of Jesus was absolute confirmation he was dead. Since the soldiers had already determined Jesus was dead, they skipped the breaking of his legs. This fulfilled another Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah, which is that his bones would remain unbroken.
In 1968 archaeologist in Jerusalem found the remains of about three dozen Jews who had died during the uprising of Rome around A.D. 70. One victim, whose name was apparently Yohanan, had been crucified. And sure enough, they found a seven-inch nail still driven into his feet.
If we speculate that the impossible happened and that Jesus somehow managed to survive the crucifixion. Which there is just no way he survived the cross, but if he had….How could he walk around after seven-inch nail had been driven into his feet? How could he have appeared on the road to Emmaus just a short time later? How could he have used his arms after they were stretched and pulled from their joints? Plus, keep in mind Jesus had massive wounds on his back and a spear wound to his chest. After suffering that horrible abuse, with all of the blood loss and trauma, he would have looked so pitiful that the disciples would have never hailed him a victorious conqueror of death. They would have felt sorry for him and nursed him back to health. So it is crazy to think if Jesus had appeared to them in this state, his followers would have been prompted to start a worldwide movement based on the hope that someday they too would have a resurrection body like his.
The only word I can think to describe these actions by Jesus, paying the death penalty that we deserve because of our rebellion against God is Love.
We have concrete evidence that Jesus body was missing from the tomb. Christianity can stand up to rational analysis and rugged scrutiny. If we look at specific evidence: Jesus corpse was turned over to Arimathea a member of the very council that voted to condemn Jesus. There were armed guards outside of the tomb. Also, the unanimous testimony that the empty tomb was discovered by women would have been embarrassing for the disciples to admit and most certainly would have been covered up if it were legend. There was no one from either perspective claiming the tomb still contained Jesus body. The empty tomb, then, forms a veritable rock on which all rationalistic theories of the resurrection dash themselves in vain.
We have established that Jesus was in fact killed by crucifixion on the cross, buried in the tomb and his body is no longer there. To complete the miracle we must establish that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead and appear alive to the world. So, we must turn to eyewitness accounts of the risen Christ. One of the most prolific testimonies is the appearance of Jesus to over 500 people at a single time on the Galilean countryside. Jesus, also appeared to Mary Magdalene and other women, to Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus. He then appeared to 11 disciples, to 10 apostles (Thomas being absent), then to Thomas and the other apostles. An additional 7 apostles and other disciples. Then he was with the apostles at the Mount of Olives before his ascension. Analyzing these appearances, based on especially early material, incident after incident, witness after witness, detail after detail, corroboration on top of corroboration we can be assured the Resurrection took place exactly as described in the Gospels.
“If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24)
You must make your choice. I believe this man was the Son of God. That the evidence allows us to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus is the one true God.
I may not be the man I should be or the man, with Christ’s help, I someday will be, but thank God I’m not the man I used to be! (Dr. M.L. King Jr.)